was livid. He had chopped up strangely clad men until the blade of his
sword had sprayed red with every movement and he could scarcely move
for fear of tripping over a body, but they had kept coming, finally
overwhelming him with sheer numbers. He had no idea why they hadn’t
just killed him instead of clubbing him on the head until he was dazed,
before disarming him and binding him hand and foot.
raced off after Shevyn and the Gauntlet. Toryn had not seen him since.
He was quite worried, especially when Reed came down from the mountain
dragging a sobbing Shevyn and carrying the cask with the Gauntlet. Reed
threw Shevyn down next to Toryn and bound her quickly with a length of
rope, not bothering to be gentle.
Reed tossed Toryn a satisfied
grin and ignored his snarl of rage before speaking to the remaining
warriors in guttural grunts and flowery hand gestures. Toryn’ss nearly
continuous mental screaming to the Falaran had received no response,
something Redwing would never allow if he were conscious. Shevyn looked
at him and began to sob, trying vainly to create words. She tried for
agonizingly long minutes, until Toryn asked her to please stop. He was
afraid she would hurt herself. After that, she simple stared at the
ground and wept silently. Toryn’s gut tightened painfully; he feared
the worst for Redwing.
Prince Keev returned, apparently
having heard the commotion and hurried back to join the fray, although
he was apparently on the side of Reed and the warriors. He did not seem
at all surpised to see ReedThe Silveran prince took an immediate
interest in Alyn, who had also been disarmed and bound. Her whip had
taken out quite a number of the warriors. She faced them all defiantly,
although she looked at Toryn with a worried expression. She was tied
too far from him to speak to.
Reed argued with Keev, who seemed
to be making demands. If he still wanted the Gauntlet, Reed was hearing
none of it, as they stayed far from the wagon. Reed walked a slow
circuit of the battlefield, trailed by the prince. They were near
enough for Toryn to overhear Reed agree to sell Alyn to him for a
handful of jewels. Toryn tried to leap to his feet in rage, but his
bonds were well-tied. He watched helplessly as Keev dragged her away
with his entourage. Toryn decided he would have to kill Prince Keev
sooner or later.
Probably later, he admitted to himself wryly,
tugging on his bound hands. Reed placed the chest with the Gauntlet
back into the wagon and ordered the warriors—Parmittans, Toryn learned
later—to take it and be off. The leader of the warriors made several
odd noises while gesturing at Toryn and Shevyn. Reed argued with him
for a time, but nodded. Several of the warriors came for Toryn,
hoisting him to his feet and dragging him without bothering to loosen
his bonds. They loaded him into the back of the wagon with the Gauntlet
cask. A few warriors climbed up next to him, fingering their knives
with perhaps a little too much eagerness.
Reed gave some
last-minute instructions to Sellaris and Garyn, then grabbed Shevyn and
faded out of existence. The look in Shevyn’s eyes as she disappeared
nearly put Toryn into a killing rage, but he recognized his own
helplessness and chafed at his too-tight bonds. He assumed Reed had
taken her back to Ven-Kerrick and could only wonder at her fate.
Lavan woke up shortly thereafter and roared with rage. He ran for Toryn
with murder in his eyes and managed to climb up into the wagon and wrap
his hands around Toryn’s throat. The Parmittans cheered happily. Things
were going dark for Toryn when the Parmittan chief clubbed Lavan,
thankfully loosening his hands and sending him sprawling.
“Mine,” the chief said, a statement that filled Toryn with unease.
“For now. I want to be there when he dies,” Lavan snarled. His red hair
was mussed and matted with blood. Toryn made a rude noise at him and
then the wagon moved out.
Two days later Toryn learned that he
was meant for sacrifice, which rather intensified his need to escape.
Unfortunately, he was kept bound and in the wagon at all times.
Sellaris fed him by hand and asked him questions about Redwing. He
hated that because it made him think of Redwing, and he did not want to
do that anymore.
He was terribly afraid that his friend was dead.
They traveled over the Ven-Horn Mountains, a grueling experience at
best, a nightmare at worst. Toryn, in the wagon with his hands bound,
discovered that crossing a mountain range in a wagon was possibly the
closest torture to being burned alive in Sheol. Each time the wagon
moved, he was tossed to one side or the other and almost flew out
completely several times.
By the end of the second day, he was
bruised from head to toe and the ropes on his wrists were wet with
blood. The Parmittans walked, except the brave few that unwisely rode
in the wagon. They would only do that until the torture became too much
for even their small minds and after that they got down and stayed far
away from the wooden torture chamber.
Sellaris, Garyn, Lavan,
and the two men they had met in the Black City, (whose names were Yik
and Yak, or something like that) rode horses. The two men were twins.
It was Toryn’s opinion that the couple who had brought those two into
the world had cut their own throats shortly after viewing their
children. They were not pleasant-looking men. Toryn amused himself by
insulting them whenever they were in range. They paid no attention to
Toryn, which frustrated him immensely. He insulted the Parmittans also,
but a few of them could speak his tongue and they just grinned and
fingered their knives. All in all, it was wonderful company.
Toryn’s only true release came from taunting Lavan. The redhead would
endure Toryn’s slurs for approximately two sentences before his face
became as red as his hair and he would shriek at Toryn until Sellaris
ordered him to shut up and ride elsewhere.
After the last
shouting match, Garyn rode up to the wagon and frowned at Toryn. “You
should not irritate him like that,” he said.
“Why? If I’m nice to him, will they delay my sacrifice for an hour?” He sneered. Garyn flushed and rode away.
Sellaris took pity on him on the third day of the crossing, after he
was knocked unconscious by a particularly hard jolt that sent his head
slamming into the side of the wagon. When he came to, he discovered
that his legs had been untied. His hands were still bound, but they had
been cleaned of blood and dirt and tied in front of him instead of
behind his back, giving him limited use. Toryn glared at Sellaris for
thanks. She shrugged. He climbed down from the wagon, grateful—despite
his hatred—that he was allowed to walk rather than ride in the vehicle
with the Gauntlet.
After months of traveling on horseback, it
was hard to adapt to walking again, Toryn discovered. The Parmittan
warriors were tireless. They wore short skirt-like wraps around their
hips, adorned with many multicolored feathers. Their skin color was
surprisingly pale, considering the time they must have spent out of
doors. They seemed generally amiable, talking to each other in their
sometimes guttural, sometimes musical language, and ignored everyone
else. They obeyed their large leader without question. Their favorite
pastime seemed to be sharpening their curved knives.
exhausted after his first day of walking. They were close to the peak,
Sellaris informed him, and would probably cross over soon. After that,
it would be all downhill.
“All the way to my grave, eh?” Toryn
joked with no real humor. Sellaris looked at him with something that
resembled pity for a moment. Perhaps her heart was not completely stone.
“Are you so certain Brydon will not come to your rescue?” she asked.
Toryn looked at her in irritation. He had never liked her and could not
see Redwing’s attraction. She was the type to put herself first and
“Did you not see Redwing go after Shevyn?” he asked.
“The brown-haired girl?” Sellaris shrugged. “So?”
“Reed came back with her,” he said. “Redwing did not.”
She looked puzzled. Toryn rolled his eyes. “Are you simple? Redwing
would never have let Reed take her unless he could no longer prevent
“What do you mean?” she murmured, grey eyes going wide.
Her red hair shone in the light of the Parmittan’s fires. She was
beautiful, but Toryn cared nothing for it.
“Redwing is dead,” he said brutally.
Sellaris shook her head. “No! He cannot be! Reed would not—”
“Reed tried to kill him at their first meeting. What makes you think he
would hold back? Do you honestly think Reed would save Redwing for you?”
Toryn snapped. Sellaris climbed unsteadily to her feet and then turned
and ran into the trees. Lavan jumped up and stalked to Toryn.
“What did you say to her?” he yelled.
“Nothing she can’t handle,” Toryn growled. “She’s more of a man than you’ll ever be.”
Lavan’s face flushed and he swung a booted foot at Toryn, who put out
his bound hands, grabbed Lavan’s foot and shoved as hard as he could.
The redhead flailed his arms and toppled over backwards.
climbed to his feet again, his rage apoplectic. He leaped at Toryn,
only to be stopped by a hand that grabbed his shoulder and spun him
around. Garyn looked at Lavan’s enraged face calmly.
“You dare—?!” Lavan burst out.
“Just leave him alone,” the brown-haired man said quietly. “He is right. Sellaris can take care of herself.”
“But he said I—!” Lavan protested angrily.
“Yes,” Garyn snapped. “And you are proving him right, acting like a fool.”
Lavan spluttered incoherently and reached for his sword, but something
in Garyn’s calm gaze seemed to halt him. His eyes dropped to the sword
hilt where Garyn’s hand rested. Toryn also looked and noticed with
outrage that Garyn wore his blade with the jade dragon hilt.
Lavan seemed to deflate suddenly, but his bitterness still found an
outlet. “Fool I may be, but at least I do not follow Sellaris around
like a rutting stag. She will never treat you as anything other than a
quivering pup!” he goaded. With that, he stalked off in search of his
sister. Toryn saw a real pain in Garyn’s eyes before it was squelched.
He looked at Toryn and sighed.
“It’s a pity that he is right,”
he said with a sad smile. He went back to the fire and returned with a
large piece of roasted buck the Parmittans had brought down earlier
“Why bother feeding a dead man?” Toryn asked, burying
his temporary compassion for Garyn under his own despair. He took the
meat and bit into it ravenously.
“No one is dead until their breath is gone for good,” Garyn said. “Until that time, hang on to life with all your power.”
“I haven’t given up yet,” Toryn snapped, wondering why Garyn would give him such advice.
“Death does not bother me,” Garyn went on quietly. “But sacrifice? I
don’t like it. Shaitan will never be my god.” He uttered the last
“Then why are you here?” Toryn asked, not
understanding where the conversation led. Garyn looked into the forest
where Sellaris had disappeared and then turned to walk away.
“As Lavan said, I am a fool,” he said over his shoulder.
Toryn thought, with a stab of pain, that the man reminded him somewhat
of Redwing. He sighed and finished eating even though his appetite had
Sellaris was pale the next day and avoided Toryn, which
was fine with him. Lavan also stayed far away, riding near Sellaris at
the front of the column.
Only Garyn spoke to Toryn, bringing
him water and answering questions. Toryn had discovered that he hated
having no one to talk with. Since meeting Redwing, he’d had someone to
argue with and laugh at whenever he needed it. He thought back to his
last argument with Redwing and recalled his brother, Morgyn. His fears
seemed foolish now that the Falaran was gone. What did it matter that
Redwing was a Falaran? He had proven his nobility, his courage, and his
friendship time and again. Toryn wished now that he’d had a chance to
introduce Redwing to his family. He wished...
“Where are we?”
he asked Garyn almost desperately, to take his mind away from his
friend. He had tried calling Redwing with his thoughts several times,
screaming mentally until he was drenched in sweat. There had been no
reply. He had expected none, anyway.
“We are in Parmitta,” Garyn replied, even though Toryn suspected that from what he remembered of Jace’s maps.
“Where are we going from here?”
Garyn smiled. “Parmitta is the only place to go
from here. The continent travels to the sea on all sides.” Seeing
Toryn’s frustrated expression, he explained further. “We just entered
the land of the Voor.” He gestured at the warriors and some of them
glanced over at the familiar word.
“We will probably travel to their village, Voor-ik, on the banks of the Fear River.”
The Fear River. Lovely name. “Where does the Gauntlet go?”
Garyn’s face tightened. “I will not be the one to answer that,” he said.
“Who is the Dark Master?” Toryn prodded, recalling Sellaris’s
conversation with Prince Keev. Garyn touched heels to his horse and
galloped away, leaving Toryn’s questions unanswered and somehow the
more ominous for it.
The further they descended out of the
mountains, the warmer it became. The forest was taller and thicker,
also. By the time they left the Ven-Horns behind, they were deep in
jungle that blocked out most of the sunlight and made day seem like
dusk. The place was alive with fauna and Toryn was reminded of Terris,
except that the forest floor was mostly dry instead of covered in
The Parmittans were quite at home, as was
evident when they reached the first man-sized bush that contained
blossoms of huge orange-colored flowers. The warriors swarmed around
the bush and decimated the blossoms. They rubbed the flower petals all
over their skin. Their antics continued until the last warrior was
coated from head to toe with the juice. It left them looking even more
freakish and exotic with huge orangish streaks on their bodies.
“What are they doing?” Toryn asked, walking around to where Garyn
stood. Sellaris approached the plant and sniffed at a flower. She made
a gagging motion and backed away in disgust.
“I don’t know, but
they smell wretched. Perhaps it’s some sort of tribal custom?” Garyn
suggested. The leader of the Parmittans spoke to Sellaris and gestured
at the plant, but she wrinkled her nose and shook her head. The man
shrugged and smiled before grunting to his warriors in their language.
They burst out laughing and slapped each other on the backs. Sellaris
looked annoyed, but ordered them to get moving.
later, the northerners discovered the worth of the blossoms. Toryn
batted at the mass of insects feasting on his flesh. Noisy, fat,
bloodthirsty insects, at that. They had a painful bite. He was so busy
waiting for them to land, so he could smack them, that he tripped over
a root. The insects seemed to take it as a sign that he was dead and
therefore free food, so they swarmed on him with voracious hunger.
Toryn leaped to his feet, shouting and swatting frantically with his
bound hands. He heard loud laughter and looked up to find the Parmittan
warriors laughing at his plight. They were unaffected by the insects,
which swarmed around them, but did not land. Sellaris, Lavan and Garyn
were not laughing; they were as plagued as Toryn.
shouted at the tribal leader, who shrugged and sent some of his men
into the jungle. They returned a short time later with an armful of the
reeking orange flowers. The northerners wasted no time in snatching the
blossoms and smearing the foul-smelling plants all over themselves.
Once Toryn adjusted to the smell, the relief from the insects was
In late afternoon, it began to rain, although it could
hardly be called rain. The water filtered down through the thick
curtain of foliage, reaching the ground as a fine mist that coated
everything. It continued for hours and turned into true rain when they
entered regions less dense with trees. Toryn felt like he breathed warm
Instead of driving the insects away, the rain seemed to
attract them and they attacked with renewed frenzy. Unfortunately, the
mist also washed away the flower repellent and before long everyone,
including the Parmittans, slapped themselves frequently with yelps of
Darkness came even earlier with the clouds covering the
forest, so they camped and huddled near the fire. It was horrendously
uncomfortable since they were already sweating, but the smoke from the
wet wood drove most of the carnivorous insects away. Toryn was too hot
and tired and bitten to eat, so he rolled himself into the blanket
Garyn had given him, smashed all the bugs that found their way inside,
and tried to sleep.
He decided he hated jungles.
The next week crawled by with little change. Every morning brought the
bloodsuckers and every afternoon the rain. The jungle seemed
never-ending and the only moment of excitement was when Sellaris ran
across a snake and, screaming, chopped it into a hundred bloody bits.
The Parmittan leader was angry because the snake had apparently been
edible before she had demolished it.
Toryn stopped taunting
Lavan, too bored to bother. He ignored everyone and withdrew into
himself, passing the time with memories of his family. One night when
he huddled under his blanket, hiding from the insects, he heard
footsteps pass by. He glanced out and to see Sellaris slip into the
foliage. When she disappeared he got to his feet. The Parmittan who
guarded him had fallen asleep, so it was little trouble for him to
follow Sellaris. His guards were often lax and Toryn had often
contemplated escaping on foot, but he had watched firsthand when the
Parmittans tracked a jungle cat. They were incredible trackers and
Toryn would simply be lost in the jungle until they found him.
He walked until he saw Sellaris perched on a moss-covered fallen tree.
About to step forward and make his presence known, he halted at the
sight of something in her hand. Curious, he stopped and peered at it.
It was a large tear-shaped crystal that fit in the palm of her hand.
Toryn recognized it as the pendant she normally wore around her neck.
It was pale green in color and seemed to glow slightly. Sellaris looked
at it intently, as if searching for some flaw, but Toryn had the
impression that her action meant something else entirely.
stared at it for a long time without moving. Toryn nearly stepped out
of hiding when she said, “No! You did not say you were going to—!” She
stopped quickly and seemed to recover herself. “No,” she went on. “He
meant nothing. Yes, everything is going according to plan. No trouble.”
There was a long silence and then Sellaris covered the crystal with her
other hand. Toryn noticed a fine gold chain attached to it as she
slipped it over her head and tucked the stone into her blouse. She
Toryn moved forward and she turned with a start
as her hand flew to her sword hilt. Beautiful she might be, but she was
a warrior through and through. She stared at him for an instant and
then straightened and to let the blade slide back into the scabbard.
“How long have you been there?” she demanded.
“Long enough to find that very interesting,” Toryn said coldly. “Do you often talk to rocks? What is it? Magic?”
She tossed her hair, but her eyes slid away from Toryn’s. The word
seemed to make her uneasy. “I don’t know,” she said. “Reed communicates
Toryn felt jolted. “Reed? But he is weeks behind us.”
“More,” Sellaris said quietly. “He is back in Ven-Kerrick.” She clasped
her hands together in front of her as if cold, or in prayer. Her eyes
were far away. She shuddered.
“Did you receive bad news?” he asked hopefully.
“Brydon is dead.”
Toryn felt as if she had driven a lance into his chest. He gaped at her. “How do you know?” he demanded.
Sellaris gazed intently into the forest and wrapped her arms around
herself. “Reed told me. They fought, the two of them, for the
Gauntlet.” Toryn felt a slice of fear. He knew Redwing was no match for
Reed. “Brydon was wounded. Reed lashed out and Brydon went over the
edge of a cliff.”
Toryn closed his eyes. He had suspected
Redwing was dead, but had not fully allowed himself to believe it. They
had been through too much together. He had expected Redwing to charge
out of the trees any day and rescue him. Toryn took a shuddering breath
and let the anguish fill him before the rage took over. Both emotions
warred within him, threatening to crack him in two. A sob from Sellaris
shocked him and he snapped his eyes open. Her face was buried in her
hands and she wept brokenly. Toryn wanted to cry with her. The misting
rain would have concealed it, but the hurt was too great for that. The
only hope for uniting Redol and Falara in peace was gone, killed by a
madman for a stupid, useless token.
Reed. It was because of
Reed. Toryn vowed revenge. The thought made his pain slightly more
bearable and he let rage at Reed take over. He looked at Sellaris
again. He could not have comforted her if he had wanted to, with his
hands bound as they were. He watched her expressionlessly.
could have loved him,” she said dully, looking at Toryn through eyes
wet with tears. Toryn had nothing to say to that. He turned and walked
back to the encampment, his mind no longer sluggish from boredom.